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Traumatic brain injury research foundation goes inactive

Bennet Omalu, along with his family, poses for photos on Nov. 10, 2015. TNS

Bennet Omalu, along with his family, poses for photos on Nov. 10, 2015. TNS

Bennet Omalu, along with his family, poses for photos on Nov. 10, 2015. TNS

By Lauren Rosenblatt / News Editor

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The Bennet Omalu Foundation, which was created last year for traumatic brain injury research, is no longer active.

Bennet Omalu, formerly a neuropathologist with the Allegheny County Medical Examiner, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an email Friday that he no longer wanted to be a part of the Foundation since he is “making adjustments…to reduce the demands of [his] time and life.”

The Foundation’s website has been inactive since Nov. 22 according to the Post-Gazette article. No one from the Foundation could be reached in time for publication.

Pitt announced when the Foundation began last December that it would be the nonprofit’s first academic partner. The Foundation had planned to partner with other schools as well.

Pitt spokesperson Joe Miksch said Pitt was not involved in the decision to close the foundation but that it would not affect Pitt’s research on brain injuries.

“Pitt is among the world leaders in brain trauma research and will continue to undertake cutting-edge research in the field,” Miksch said in an email.

While working in Allegheny County in 2002, Omalu discovered that Hall of Fame center and former Steeler Mike Webster died from a brain disease he developed from sustaining multiple concussions while he played in the NFL.

The discovery gained traction when Jeanne Marie Laskas, head of Pitt’s writing program, chronicled Omalu’s work in an article for GQ magazine in 2009 about how concussions affect NFL players. The article spawned a book, which was adapted for the movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith in 2015.

In her article and book, Laskas details how Omalu came under fire from the NFL for showing that players were developing serious brain diseases from the multiple concussions they sustained while playing.

Concussions, a form of traumatic brain injury, have physical symptoms, such as headache, blurred vision and nausea, and cause complications in thinking, remembering and sleeping.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that current data sources may only capture one out of every nine concussions across the nation. The CDC is proposing a National Concussion Surveillance System to gather information about how many children get a concussion each year and how it occurred.

For his work on traumatic brain injuries, particularly chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Omalu received two awards in november: the Distinguished Service Award from the American Medical Association and the Service to Science Award from the National Disease Research Interchange.

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Traumatic brain injury research foundation goes inactive